Really Cheap Decorating Thread!! - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-02-2009, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Mamas,

I'm wondering if there's anyone else out there who has a very limited income but loves to decorate their home! I'm not talking about those of you who find good deals at pottery barn, this is a thread for people who have hardly any money to work with but make it work anyway! I often find myself browsing frugal home decorating blogs and when they brag about their cheap finds I think, "I could never ever afford that!" No, this is not a pity thread... let's share our positive stories, cheap decorating tips and dumpster finds!

I'll start!

I have very limited income to work with. It's taken me years to furnish my home- I hardly own any new furniture, everything was either given to me by family, found on a curb or in a dumpster, from a thrift store or from sites like craigslist. Sometimes it bums me out but honestly I'm quite proud of myself- my house feels like home and I accomplished that with hardly any money! So what if my couch is from the 80s- with some throw pillows, it works!

I love finding stuff on the curb on garbage day- free shopping and exercise! There's something in nearly every room of my house that I got for free from someone else's trash- a cabinet in DP's office, table and chairs in DD's room, our nightstand in the bedroom, patio table and chairs in our backyard. And just the other day I found a fairly new wooden cabinet but half the backing was missing and the doors were damaged. The doors came off, I removed the rest of the backing, cleaned it up, and now we have a perfect little cubby by our front door that fits our shoes on one shelf, bags and a basket holding hats, etc on another and on top we have a spot to put our incoming mail. For free!

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Old 06-02-2009, 07:12 PM
 
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What a great idea for a thread! Almost all of our furniture has been given to us by family - everything except a bookshelf and our TV stand!

Our home desparately needs decorated but we have no money to do so. I've been trying to find ideas but everything I've seen online costs something - often more than I want to (or can) pay.

I'd love ideas for wall art to hang above our sage green couch. Anyone? I've been trying to think of something for months now, but I don't think I'm all that creative and I'm afraid it won't look right!

Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading everyone's ideas!!
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Old 06-02-2009, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd love ideas for wall art to hang above our sage green couch. Anyone? I've been trying to think of something for months now, but I don't think I'm all that creative and I'm afraid it won't look right!
How about you make something yourself? Look up some modern art, like stripes of colour that would go with your couch and imitate it. Or I've always wanted to do leaf prints and frame them! Find lots of different types of leaves, paint with earthy colours and stamp them onto paper. Ikea has some cheap frames. I have NO luck finding frames at thrift stores! Or if you can find a cool old quilt you could hang that up.

I also don't have any art yet though, I should get on that.
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Old 06-02-2009, 07:23 PM
 
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Ha, I was just thinking how everything in our house is handmade, a hand-me-down, or second hand. I love our house though. It is very comfy and unique. I don't have anything that is not useful and/or beautiful. I like the challenge of making things work. And I like all of the little stories that accompany each thing.

Those "frugal" tips/articles/shows make me laugh too. The only time I have more than $20 bucks at time to work with is if we get a good tax return! I could decorate an entire house for what they spend in one room!

We live in a small town so there isn't much opportunity for curb or dumpster gleaning. But I still manage to find good stuff at the thrift stores or yard sales. I made the throw pillows on my couch from old bed pillows cut down, with covers made from pillowcases or shams, curtains, even a men's shirt.
My bathroom curtain has this really pretty pintucking on the bottom, I made that from a skirt.

My diaper station is an old sofa table we got for free. Dh brought home a scrap of lumber from some job and added a shelf, and we use a towel wrapped in a cover made from another towel. So total cost was a couple dollars.

Last winter I bought 6 ladder back chairs from Craigslist for $25. I made new woven seats from some twill drapes I got at a flea market for $5. So $5 a chair and they look like Shaker antiques. It took a long time but I'm really proud of them!

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Old 06-02-2009, 08:26 PM
 
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My sister and I have girly swap meets where we invite friends to invite friends to bring over stuff that they are done with. Clothes, shoes, toiletries, and yes, decorations. We all trade and leave with "new" things.

My whole house is a thriftstore/garage sale find. It also really helps if you can sew.
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:02 PM
 
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So what if my couch is from the 80s- with some throw pillows, it works!
Mine is from the 60's It served for 30 years in the previous family, then was given to us. As a splurge I'm going to make new cushions next time I recover it.

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I'd love ideas for wall art to hang above our sage green couch. Anyone? I've been trying to think of something for months now, but I don't think I'm all that creative and I'm afraid it won't look right!
At Michaels they have blank canvases (or you can make a frame from wood). Cover it in fabric. Half a yard should be enough, so even if you buy expensive fabric it's not that much.
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:39 PM
 
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I love threads like this! Right now I'm turning a dresser into a cubbyhole shelf with baskets I already had and some shoe boxes. I'm giving my daughter's dresser a coat of paint I got free at a yardsale. I took the back off an old bookshelf to give it a more modern look. I'm also hotgluing some paint sample chips to the edges of the couch where my kitty ripped it to ribbons. I couldn't afford ribbon or lace right now. I also like to switch stuff from room to room for a new look.
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:49 PM
 
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I just bought an old love seat for $ 10. The person I bought it from also bought it at a yard sale and used it for quite a while. It is pretty faded but very comfortable and just exactly the right size for my tiny, tiny cottage. I will probably cover it with a quilt I bought at another yard sale that is getting too worn to be on the bed anymore. This weekend I bought a couple of pretty vases that I love. Actually most of the things I love best I bought at yard sales or someone gave me or I made them.

If you need throw pillows you can scrounge around yard sales or thrift stores for old pillows and just take the pillow form out and recover. Same thing for frames. Buy the frames cheap and just frame calendar prints or even some pretty fabric.

You know, it is kind of embarrassing - I have never actually thought about decorating any other way. Do people really go out and buy coordinated stuff?
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:37 PM
 
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I consider myself to have a phd. in this topic. My entire house is practically thrift and I'm tremendously proud of it. I helps that I love to thrift shop and I can usually see the potential in an item. I also can sew so that helps too.
I think thriftstores, craigslist and garage sales are a decorators dream. It just takes time and persistence, but you can usually find what you need at a good price. For example I made all the window treatments for my living room (12 panels total) from a roll of fabric I got at the thrift store for $50, it had 33 yds of fabric on it and I still have some leftover for pillows or whatever else I might decide to make with it. You'd be hard pressed to purchase curtains for less, let alone heavy weight fabric like these are. I made art work for the living room using blank canvases purchased on sale for maybe $5 for 2 and got fabric from the remenant/clearance bin to cover them. I purchased my couch which was brand new (still with the packing tags attached) for $89. It's a high end down cushion number that I just adore from a thrift store that seems to get a lot of great stuff and sale it very reasonably.
My latest score was at a new thrift store so that allowed some room to bargain. I picked up 2 midcentury chairs and recovered them. Each chair ended up costing me under $25, including the cost of new padding for the chairs. You can see one of them here. I think it came out pretty good.
http://mylilsliceofpie.blogspot.com/

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Old 06-02-2009, 11:23 PM
 
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I have found, for me, that the best way to decorate is to not decorate. I have the tendancy to overdo things, and not in a good way. And stuff ends up looking weird and cluttered and not good. I find that it is better for me to get rid of everything I don't love and leave things bare until I find something I do love. Right now, I don't have a rug on my living room floor or anything above my couch. Because I can't find the exact right thing that I love that I can afford. So those areas stay bare.

Also, I have removed everything from my home that brings bad memories. I make sure that anything I look at in my home makes me happy and brings good memories to my thoughts. A simple, clear home that is clean is all the decorating anyone really needs. That's where I started. And anything that gets added is well thought out and has to be: affordable, have some sort of personal meaning to me and my family, easy to clean....

I cut wildflowers and weeds in the summer to bring life into my home. I use canning jars and old cans with the labels removed to put them in. Or a drinking glass. Whatever works. Any kind of green growing thing can work.

For the pp who asked about something above her couch: how about a family photo? You can get a good looking frame pretty cheaply and put an important photo inside. It doesn't have to be of people, maybe an important place, or a flower that you saw on a hike, or a house that you grew up in. Don't spend any time or money on anything until you find just the perfect thing, though!
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:10 AM
 
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http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot....ni-blinds.html

If you have mini blinds, no matter what kind of ugly crappy condition they are in you can make some beautiful window coverings for practically nothing and with no 'crafty' skills to speak of. I did this for my bathroom window and I love the way it turned out.
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Old 06-03-2009, 01:14 AM
 
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This is me!!

We just moved and I've spent the last month setting up our new house, and it amazes me that nearly everything we have has a "story" behind it. Our couches are from craigslist, beds/dressers are antique/hand-me-downs from my husbands family, we have a ton of stuff from our old dump (my favorite place ever... the "take it or leave it" building was the source for so many of our things.

My new love is auctions! We just got a new table and a really cute little cabinet a few weeks ago.

Here is a link to FB photos. We have bought a few things recently (area rugs, curtains), but in general nearly everything we have is either 2nd/3rd hand, free, salvaged, etc.
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...9&l=0e7185a61b
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:02 AM
 
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I am sooooo glad I'm not the only one wondering how people afford all those 'looks' brand new!!!

My style is much more eclectic too. I love matchy-matchys but, well, life is too boring to have everything look the same!

For art, I cut apart a few old National Geographic mags (got them free from a teacher but they are sold dirt cheap at any used bookstore). I picked beautiful nature imagery. Then, I cut frames out of some old cardboard boxes. I painted the frames black, then hot glued those flat aquarium stones on some, glitter on others, wrapped & glued ribbon around others, so that the cardboard was covered. I then glued the image to the back of that 'frame' & hung it up. Very cute and cheap!

I've already bookmarked several links. I lurve decorating on the cheap!


Ami

Wife to dh, Mommy to my heavenly angel, J (06), and my earthly angels, S (07) and E (10)

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Old 06-03-2009, 02:23 AM
 
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: wow! thanks for the link!

quote=PajamaMama;13871738]http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot....ni-blinds.html

If you have mini blinds, no matter what kind of ugly crappy condition they are in you can make some beautiful window coverings for practically nothing and with no 'crafty' skills to speak of. I did this for my bathroom window and I love the way it turned out.[/quote]

 

 

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Old 06-03-2009, 02:01 PM
 
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: LOVE this thread!

as an interior designer, this is near and dear to my heart. and honestly, the best rooms come together over time with a lovely mix of items!

i'm fortunate in that design is in my 'blood' so to speak, and i have a dh that does woodworking as a hobby. so when you combine those things, you get lots of 'custom' looks for practically no money!

my house is entirely made up of a mix of hand me downs, items given to us, and some new items, with a bunch of my dh's custom pieces sprinkled in. it makes for a very cozy home.

: : vicki ~ wife & mom of 2 amazing kids
live well ~ laugh often ~ love much
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:04 PM
 
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: wow! thanks for the link!

quote=PajamaMama;13871738]http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot....ni-blinds.html

If you have mini blinds, no matter what kind of ugly crappy condition they are in you can make some beautiful window coverings for practically nothing and with no 'crafty' skills to speak of. I did this for my bathroom window and I love the way it turned out.
[/QUOTE]

oh yes......that is a great blog! a great example of how design can be achieved with just a little creativity!

: : vicki ~ wife & mom of 2 amazing kids
live well ~ laugh often ~ love much
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:37 PM
 
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I consider myself to have a phd. in this topic.
Love it! and Likewise.

I find the best thing to help me switch stuff around is my years of collected, colorful fabric accessories (cloth napkins, weird colored thrift knit throws, doilies, etc). I just switch stuff around & tah dah!, whole new look. And fabric stores pretty compactly so I don't really have tons of extra 'stuff' around.

As far as cheap wall stuff - I've been thrifting (though I probably just need to poke around my mom's attic) for an interesting semi-elaborate frame to paint and then fill with a piece of cloth-covered corkboard, mainly to showcase dd's drawings. I've already got one or two currently unused corkboards, so hoping for a correctly sized frame to fall into my hands.

And for cheap artwork - don't forget about painted boards. I save good quality scrap wood pieces from house repairs/projects and prime them with gesso to paint on (you could probably use latex primer if you had to) - masonite gets used alot this way for making simple paintings too (and is cheaper if you've got to purchase something). Paintings done on board have a nice presence and can get framed (and are often cheaper than doing it up with stretchers & canvas). You could just do a simple stencil type design if you don't feel particuarly creative or decoupage a cut out picture on a solid color.
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Old 06-03-2009, 04:33 PM
 
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I cruise our local bulletin board and CL all the time looking for deals.

We are on a budget, but are remodeling a 100 year old farmhouse. Most of our labor is by trade(DH is an electrician). We have traded for our new toilet and all plumbing supplies, got our stamped, dyed concrete floor in our bathroom for the cost of the concrete. The heat cable in the floor for cost(from Dh's boss). I found the recessed lighting for $5 for the box of 4 at a yard sale(total score-they are $10 a piece DH's cost). I scored all our cabinets, sink and fixtures for $500-which is dirt cheap(all were brand new at new cost would be $500 for the sink alone). I also got a nearly new pellet stove for $400(new cost $3600). I can go on and on about my scores. I love nice things, but I hate to pay anywhere near full price.

Me Wife to T (14 years)Mama to Princess(4) and Monster Boy(my 1 year old ):
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Old 06-03-2009, 05:02 PM
 
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Wife to DH(15 years)and Mama to: Jacob(5/02)kid.gifribbonpurple.gif, and Alina(7/07)energy.gifI luxlove.gifbellyhair.gif
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Old 06-03-2009, 05:05 PM
 
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Above my sofa is a quilt hanger that my BIL made. I usually put a throw in it rather than a quilt. I can switch it out and create a different look in the room.
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Old 06-03-2009, 11:30 PM
 
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Yay for decorating on a penny!!! :


Everyone always thinks I spend spend spend because my house looks so nice! Little do they know that a lot of it comes from the dump (they have a trader shack where people put their unwanted stuff!) the thrift store and hand me downs.

My couches are hand me downs from my Grandmother. They are dark brown leather and SO comfy. Brown is so great for decorating with too!

Yesterday at the trader shack I found a bunch of old fashioned glass milk bottles in different sizes. I grabbed them and I'm using them as vases! They look so pretty with the wild flowers and lilacs that ds and I picked!

I also came across the coolest wall hanging at the thrift store for $2!!! It's hand made and very interesting, with all sorts of funky beads and patches of colorful textured material! Like a crazy tribal quiltish thing! I'm going to hang it in the toy room!

Now that the weather is good, I'm going to get a huge canvas and some paints and let my ds's walk all over it and put their hand prints all over it. Maybe metalics, like silver, gold and bronze with some mossy green thrown in...

I am not crunchy enough for this forum. Everyday I get a little crunchier though! :
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Old 06-04-2009, 01:19 AM
 
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I've been thinking about getting a big canvas and some paints. Ds does some really awesome paintings so I am thinking about letting him have at it with "real" paint and a big canvas. Of course, I could also just frame what he has done already, in similar frames, and group them above our couch.

Another thing I need to do is cover some (ugly) throw pillows my mom gave me. I just need to go buy fabric and get out the ol' sewing machine!

I love the ideas given here already! I know I'd like to see pictures of your "cheap" decorating if anyone is willing to post them. (Pretty please? )
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Old 06-04-2009, 11:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jtsmom View Post
I have found, for me, that the best way to decorate is to not decorate. I have the tendancy to overdo things, and not in a good way. And stuff ends up looking weird and cluttered and not good. I find that it is better for me to get rid of everything I don't love and leave things bare until I find something I do love. Right now, I don't have a rug on my living room floor or anything above my couch. Because I can't find the exact right thing that I love that I can afford. So those areas stay bare.

Also, I have removed everything from my home that brings bad memories. I make sure that anything I look at in my home makes me happy and brings good memories to my thoughts. A simple, clear home that is clean is all the decorating anyone really needs. That's where I started. And anything that gets added is well thought out and has to be: affordable, have some sort of personal meaning to me and my family, easy to clean....

I cut wildflowers and weeds in the summer to bring life into my home. I use canning jars and old cans with the labels removed to put them in. Or a drinking glass. Whatever works. Any kind of green growing thing can work.

This is me, too!!

Mama to A 8/05 and S 11/06
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Old 06-04-2009, 01:49 PM
 
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I've been wanting a carpet to go under the dining room, but then again, I don't really want a carpet, I want a floor cloth (painted canvas w/ protective clear coating like wood floor finish over the paint). Much easier to clean.

But I couldn't find a big enough, cheap enough canvas. Someone ( I think on MDC) talked about using painter's drop cloth to make a couch slipcover....:
one 12 oz 8ft by 11 ft canvas drop cloth is $26. I might even use it unpainted, just to have something under there....

now all I need is some cheap paint from the mis-tint section and we'll be in business...
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Old 06-04-2009, 07:00 PM
 
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I'll have to go to my hardware store and look for similar, bigmugtea! I've really been wanting to get a rug for my living room and bathroom. I would also really like something for my kitchen. Maybe one or two of these would be enough for my tiny apartment! You've given me some great inspiration there, and it will be especially handy since I have a little one!

I know that lowe's will sell samples of their paints, an eight ounce jar, but I'm not sure if it's cheaper or not.
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Old 06-04-2009, 10:12 PM
 
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Someone ( I think on MDC) talked about using painter's drop cloth to make a couch slipcover....:
one 12 oz 8ft by 11 ft canvas drop cloth is $26. I might even use it unpainted, just to have something under there....

now all I need is some cheap paint from the mis-tint section and we'll be in business...

that was me im going to be using a bunch of them for different things in my house!

 

 

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Old 06-04-2009, 10:15 PM
 
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i will be back! i have some ideas

Your life doesnât change by the man whos elected. If your loved by someone you can't be rejected... decide what to be and go be it! If your a caged bird brake in and demand that somebody free it.
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Old 06-05-2009, 05:24 PM
 
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Thought of some more things I do. If I'm at a thrift store and I see a lamp I like that's not the right color, but I love the shape I just spray paint it. Paint is a wonderful thing. Also sometimes rewiring a really nice lamp is still cheaper than purchasing new. Yesterday I found a bunch of assorted glass vases at GW, I also have some glass spray paint and I'm going to paint them to add interest. Most of them were under $1/each. Picture frames are always in abundance at thrift stores. Find ones you like and spray paint them. It's cool to have a collection of different frames unified by color.

Sabrina , mom to 4 fab kids!

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Old 06-13-2009, 12:50 PM
 
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This is the thread for me!:My entire house is hand me downs and I love it!I'm proud to not be a huge consumer.Maybe I'll take some pics(It's dark and rainy here today though).I would LOVE to see pics of other people's low budget but loved homes if anyone wants to share.

Now I need to go back and read the whole thread.

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Old 06-13-2009, 01:12 PM
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Love this thread-- most of our stuff is second-hand, with some new (inexpensive, think ikea throw rugs etc) peppered in. I think we have a pretty decent place, though I wouldn't mind some higher-end (though secondhand would be fine!) pieces.

Let's keep this thread going. I am wanting to *spruce up* and change around a few things - I typically try to do it once a year or so.

I have this big table cloth I got at a thrift store, meant for a very large rectangular table with a pattern I LOVE. I was thinking of being industrious and sewing some throw pillows from it, however I don't have a sewing machine so it would have to be by hand. Now, I am decent at hand-sewing I just don't know if I want to take on that project LOL

Anyway just rambling. In dd's room for cheap art I got some wooden dollar store frames and framed some of her drawings, it looks very cute.

I also get elaborate, matted framed pieces at thrift stores for a few bucks and carefully remove the print if I don't like it, to replace it with another I like better (either out of a magazine, or a family picture, or a drawing of dd's). Then it looks like a professionally framed picture for a fraction of the price.

Again, great thread
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